Over the last two years I interviewed more than 150 entrepreneurs trying to uncover what their keys to success were. Among the top three things they said were essential to achieving their business goals was doing the work. Consistently.
Even though most people understand intuitively that they won't reach their goals without rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty day in and day out, many people struggle to do it.
One of the primary reasons I've observed this happens, is because the size of the task they want to tackle is intimidating. Instead of focusing on the immediate next step you must take to advance, it is easier to focus on the colossal size of the mountain you are trying to climb.
When you focus on the boatload of work that needs to be done, it is easier to sit and do nothing. No bueno.
Thankfully, I've learned a little trick that has helped me climb many mountains in both my personal and professional life: Being naive. It's worked so well for me in helping me to get things done, I count it as an essential key to my success.
Why not having the full picture can work in your favor.
A few weeks ago, I delivered my first workshop in Spanish. It's the official language here in Buenos Aires where I live, and although many people speak English, I accepted the challenge to speak to those who prefer to learn in their native language.
When I first agreed to teach the workshop, I didn't think it would be that hard. I'd presented the material several times before, and all I had to do was translate the slides and talking points.
As I started the process, I quickly realized how big an undertaking this was going to be. It. Took. Forever.
I spent an entire day on the project, while complaining about all the work involved and questioning why I even agreed to do this in the first place. Had I known how much work it was going to be to get my presentation ready in Spanish, I never would have agreed to do the workshop.
And thus, I never would have achieved a major milestone on the path to expanding my business to have a greater reach on a global scale. I'm glad I said yes. My ignorance to the amount of work involved helped me take a necessary step forward.
Ignorance really can lead to bliss.
This wasn't the first time being naive about the work involved to complete a task worked in my favor.
Underestimating a mountain of work enabled me to start my business, write my first book, host my first online conference, build my first online course, complete my first triathlon, and finish a 35-mile bike race.
Had I known in advance everything that would be required of me to complete these, I'm not sure if I would have started any of them.
My ignorance to the size of the mountain I was about to climb got me to climb the mountain.
Full disclosure: In the middle of every task I experienced a mini-meltdown (or two), and scolded myself for getting into a situation I felt I wasn't ready for.
But every time I saw the task through to completion. I prevailed and was thankful for having made my way through it, battle scars and all.
I'm not the only one who's experienced this benefit. When I talked to my friend Henneke Duistermaat over at Enchanting Marketing, she had a strikingly similar observation:
"And I agree with you that it's sometimes better to underestimate the work something takes. If my estimations had been accurate, I would have never written my books, and would have never created my course, and would never have drawn this infographic. And I wouldn't have had so much fun!"
Embrace being naive. Lean into the bliss of not knowing how deep you'll have to dig before receiving your prize.
The ignorance will get you started. And once you take those first few steps, the laws of physics will start to kick in. An object in motion will stay in motion. An object at rest, will stay at rest.
And along the way, you will learn more about what it will take to complete your task. You will figure out what you need to do to see your project through to completion.
And eventually, you will make it to the top of that mountain.